Saturday, September 14, 2013

Notes from 'Celebration of Discipline'

p. 9 "Leo Tolstoy observed, 'Everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.' Let us be among those who believe the inner transformation of our lives is a goal worthy of the best effort."

p. 13 "Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the devil ." Carl Jung

p. 14 R.D Laing writes, "We live in a secular world... There is a prophecy in Amos that a time will come when there will be a famine in the land, 'not a famine for bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of God.' That time has now come to pass. It is the present age."

p. 15 "There is need for detachment-- "sabbath of contemplation" as Peter of Celles, a Benedictine monk of the twelfth century, put it.But we must continue on to attachment.

p. 16 "The best over-all preparation for successful meditation is a personal conviction of its importance and a staunch determination to persevere in its practice" P. T. Rohrback.

p. 17 Thomas Merton "Meditation has no point and no reality unless it is firmly rooted in life."

Meister Eckhart wrote, "Even if a man were in rapture like St. Paul and knew of a man who was in need of food he would do better by feeding him than by remaining in ecstasy."

p. 18 Albert the Great said, "The contemplation of the saints is fired by the love of the one contemplated: that is, God."

The inner reality of the spiritual world is available to all who are willing to search for it. Often I have discovered that those who so freely debunk the spiritual world have never taken ten minutes to investigate whether or not such a world really exists. Like any other scientific endeavor, we form a hypothesis and experiment with it to see if it is true or not. If our first experiment fails, we do not despair or label the whole business fraudulent. We reexamine our procedure, perhaps adjust our hypothesis and try again. We should at least have the honesty to persevere in this work to the same degree we would in any field of science. The fact that so many are unwilling to do so betrays not their intelligence but their prejudice.

Frederick W. Faber-
Only to sit and think of God,
Oh what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breath the Name
Earth has no higher bliss.

p. 19 The history of religion is the story of an almost desperate scramble to have a king, a mediator, a priest, a go-between. In this way we do not need to go to God ourselves. Such an approach saves us from the need to change, for to be in the presence of God is to change.

Anyone who imagines he can simply begin meditation without praying from the desire and the grace to do so, will soon give up.

p. 22 Francis de Sales wrote:
"By means of the imagination we confine our mind within the mystery on which we meditate, that it may not ramble to and fro, just as we tie a hawk by his leash so that he may rest on the hand. Some may perhaps tell you that it is better to use the simple thought of faith and to conceive the subject in a manner entirely mental and spiritual in the representation of the mysteries, or else to imagine that the things take place in your own soul.This method is too subtle for beginners."

p.25 Evelyn Underhill warns "To elude Nature, to refuse her friendship, and attempt to leap the river of life in the hope of finding God on the other side, is the common error of a perverted mysticality.... So you are to begin with the first form of contemplation which the old mystics sometimes called the "discovery of God in His creatures."

More to come, this book is from a different spiritual path, but the practice of meditation has reached many peaks by way of many paths.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Religious Morning.

 To the East Fort Collins carries on according to its own logic, with weather subtly adjusting the mood of all.

 To the South flash floods ravage low lying areas of the Front Range. Two human lives confirmed lost as dams break, bridges and rails are knocked out, and massive structural damage. I ponder how vulnerable our infrastructure is along the edges of the mountains, sipping coffee gifted to my household by a new friend, imported from I know not where.

To the West Mountain folk reschedule their weeks to accommodate nature. Parts for a Wind Tower are sold, the technology, even according to those who make them, proving to be barely practical for most purposes. The viability of life in the mountains dependent on constant repair of roads, which serve as a constant reminder that even mountains are liquid when measured against the standards of fixed lines on a map.

To the North I look out the kitchen window, writing this, eyes fixed on a pile of compost in the back yard, light rain falls on it and fog erupts from its summit.  Inside a drama of countless species and players works its self out, shuffling carbon and nitrogen, breathing, and warming itself. Different temperatures support different civilizations and cultures, over lapping, struggling and cooperating on common priorities. On a time scale of days to me, but countless generations to the utterly different inhabitants of the pile, the pile evolves, different chemical composition and the supply of carbon slowly winds down, the pile will soon start its long cooling process. Many of the colonies and cultures formed in the pile will reach their end, only to wait a long long winter before their rebirth in the spring garden.